Track Stars

Gone are the days when watches merely told the time. Today’s wrist candy tracks your activity, displays notifications and even prompts you to be healthier. What’s more, the options are seemingly endless – so we’ve narrowed them down.
BY WANITA NICOL

TRACKERS VS SMARTWATCHES: SAME, SAME BUT DIFFERENT
You’re looking for something that straps onto your wrist, measures things like heart rate, step count and workouts and provides data through an app on your phone. But some are advertised as “fitness trackers” and others are called “smartwatches”. What’s the
difference?

Looks.
A big part of it simply comes down to appearance, according to Pierre Pienaar, a technical specialist at Cape Union Mart.
“A fitness tracker is a simple band with a basic display, whereas a smartwatch looks more like a watch – it has a bigger display
and can show you many more results and detail on the screen,” he says.

Capability.
While trackers pack a punch these days, top-of-the-range features are reserved for smartwatches. “You’d need a degree in sports science to understand some of these features,” says Pienaar. “It’s really elite athletes and their sports doctors and coaches who would need to analyse the amount of information that the high-end watches record.”

Chest-strap heart rate.
For more accurate heart-rate readings, you can connect a chest strap to a smartwatch – but not to a tracker.

Battery life.
A good tracker can last a marathon time in GPS mode, but a top-of-the-range Suunto or Garmin can last up to 150 hours while the
GPS is on!

Price.
Fitness trackers tend to be more affordable than smartwatches, says Pienaar. A top-notch tracker like the Huawei Band 6 comes in at R1 700; those top Garmin and Suunto smartwatches we mentioned could set you back as much as R18 000.

Garmin Fenix 6s Solar

HEALTH OR FITNESS?
Knowing which of these is your main focus will help you choose the best device for your needs. If your goals are fitness orientated,
look for products that monitor your progress in real-time, recommends Akhram Mohamed, director of Ecosystem Development /Partnerships/Apps & Services for Huawei Consumer Business Group. Also look for exercise reminders and a variety of exercise modes, he adds.
If you’re looking to improve your health, accurate heart-rate tracking can pick up heart strain, while blood oxygen monitoring could indicate poor lung function and possible Covid-19 infection, says Mohamed. Tracking sleep patterns and stress levels help maintain mental health.

Find your match:
Pienaar’s top picks on the market right now

BEST FOR GLAMAZONS
Apple Watch ; Garmin Vivomove – Enjoy all the functionality of a smartwatch but make it pretty.

BEST FOR HEALTH NUTS
Fitbit Sense “This is a little more hardcore but offers very good value for money.”

BEST FOR LONG-DISTANCE ATHLETES
Garmin Fenix 6s Solar; Suunto 9 – Peak They have the best GPS and performance tracking and battery life for days – literally – even in full GPS mode, but may look bulky on a slim wrist.

BEST FOR GYM BUNNIES
Huawei Band 6 “It has everything you could want for a very good price.”

DID YOU KNOW YOUR APPLE WATCH COULD DO THAT?
If you’re Team Apple in the tech debate, you’re probably either planning to get an Apple Watch – or you have one already. Phile Khumalo, communications manager at iStore shares some lesser-known features.
Handwashing: Forget singing “Happy Birthday” – Apple Watch uses motion sensors, microphone and on-device machine learning to make sure you clock those 20 seconds.
Unlock your phone: No need to remove your face mask to unlock your iPhone – you can use your watch for that.
Noise app: Monitor the noise level around you and get an alert when it risks damaging your hearing.
Cycle tracking: This new app (available on WatchOS 6 and iPhones running iOS 13 or later) allows women to track and visualise their menstrual cycles discreetly.